Sunday, February 19, 2006

Cunningham Sentencing Hearing

So Duke's case is is coming to an end. Cunningham was writing millions in earmarks into bills for his buddies, who in return gave him everything a man could want and then some. And to top it off, many of those firms were hardly more than shell companies that turned back around and funnelled money back into the GOP. So our tax dollars weren't just going towards bribing this congressman and his crooked friends, but also to finance the Republican Party. Culture of corruption indeed. Anyway, I digress, Josh, who has been all over this case from the get go, has the latest, and it's so shocking it's really hard to grasp...
Josh Marshall: Prosecutors asked U.S. District Court Judge Larry Burns to give Cunningham the maximum sentence of 10 years behind bars, a sentence Cunningham's attorney Lee Blalack called "grossly excessive."

Speaking of gross, Cunningham has not lost the power to amaze. In court documents filed by prosecutors comes this, as described by Seth Hettena of the AP ...

The prosecution's sentencing memorandum included a copy of a “bribe menu” written under the Congressional seal on Cunningham's office stationary. One column of figures represented the millions of dollars in contracts that could be “ordered” from Cunningham, according to prosecutors. The right column showed the amount of bribes Cunningham demanded in return.

According to the sentencing memorandum, Cunningham offered co-conspirator No. 2 – identified elsewhere as defense contractor Mitchell Wade – $16 million in contracts in exchange for a $140,000 bribe, which came in the form a 42-foot yacht, the Duke-Stir. (...)

In his Nov. 28 plea agreement, Cunningham admitted to accepting a Rolls-Royce, yachts, homes and antique furnishings, including a 19th Century Louis-Phillipe commode. But the sentencing memorandum provides a more complete catalogue of Cunningham's unprecedented betrayal of the public trust: (...)

–Cunningham enjoyed expensive wine, lobster and catered meals on private jet flights around the country, paid by defense contractors and others. They also footed the bill when the former congressman stayed in top-of-the-line resorts and hotels such as The Greenbriar in White Sulfur Springs, W Va.; the Royal Hawaiian in Oahu, Hawaii; and the Coeur d'Alene Resort in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho.

“Cunningham grew to expect luxury,” prosecutors wrote. “His co-conspirators eagerly plied him with it.” ...(more)

"Having admitted unparalleled corruption, defendant Randall H. Cunningham now comes before the Court to be sentenced for his stunning betrayal of the public trust."

That's the first sentence of the 35 page sentencing memorandum federal prosecutors presented to U.S. District Court Judge Larry Burns in the Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham case. They want Duke to serve the max -- 10 years in prison.

It's the most detailed and eye-popping recounting of Cunningham's various bad acts, bribes and shenanigans yet.

And we just posted the whole thing at the TPM Document Collection.

A few highlights, for lack of a better word ...

Page 6, item b. Duke's staffer catches Duke buying a Suburban at under market value from Mitchell Wade. Duke tells staffer to "Stay the f--- out of my personal business." "In an attempt to right, and conceal, this obviously corrupt transaction" Duke's staffers falisfy his DMV application and try to get him to pay up to make up the difference. Duke passes on the opportunity.

Page 9, item i. We learn about the roots of the GOP contempt for the capital gains tax. Duke asks for special bribe earmarked for payment of capital gains taxes on sale of house.

Page 12, item a. Duke shares ride back from the antique store bribery junket with Mitchell Wade, expresses "his appreciation for [Wade's] willingness to bribe him" and tells Wade he'll make him "somebody".

Page 15, item e. Duke demands that Mitchell Wade buy him a used Rolls Royce. Duke then has Wade pay thousands to restore the car. Duke then engineers bogus paper 'sale' of the car to Wade to pocket still more money. Cunningham retains ownership of car.

Page 16, item f. Duke arranges to purchase the yacht 'Buoy Toy' from gay couple with his "business partner" Mitchell Wade. Duke then renames boat the 'Duke Stir'. When explaining his reasons for changing the yacht's name, Duke quips, "I bought the boat, not the lifestyle."

Page 19. Unnamed Duke staffer confronts Duke over millions of dollars in bribes he has accepted, asks Duke to either resign or not seek reelection. Duke thinks it over, decides he'll stay in Congress. Staffer resigns.

Page 20, item a, following. Duke embarks on reign of witness tampering and obstruction of justice.


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